1 Rejoice, O pure in heart,
rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
your festal banner wave on high,
the cross of Christ your King.
Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, give thanks, and sing!
2 Bright youth and snow-crowned age,
both men and women, raise
on high your free, exulting song,
declare God's wondrous praise. [Refrain]
3 Still lift your standard high,
still chanting as you go,
from youth to age, by night and day,
in gladness and in woe. [Refrain]
4 At last the march shall end;
the wearied ones shall rest,
the pilgrims reach their home at last,
Jerusalem the blest. [Refrain]
5 Praise God, who reigns on high,
the Lord whom we adore:
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
one God forevermore. [Refrain]
Psalter Hymnal, 1987
|First Line:||Rejoice, ye pure in heart|
|Title:||Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart|
|Author:||E. H. Plumptre (1865)|
|Meter:||188.8.131.52 with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||Rejoice, rejoice, Rejoice, give thanks and sing|
|Liturgical Use:||Opening Hymns|
st. 2 = Ps. 40:3
ref. = Phil. 4:4
Anglican clergyman Edward H. Plumptre (PHH 363) wrote this text for use as a processional hymn for the annual choral festival at Peterborough Cathedral, England (May 1865). "Rejoice, a Pure in Heart" was originally in eleven stanzas-long enough for all the choirs to process into the cathedral. It was published in the third edition of Plumptre's Lazarus and Other Poems (1868) and in the Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern (1868). Of the original eleven stanzas, 1,2,8,9, and 11 are included.
In this text the imagery of a liturgical procession becomes a marching metaphor for the journey of life. The call to "rejoice, give thanks and sing" (st. 1) is extended to all people, "bright youth and snow-crowned age, both men and women" (st. 2), and on all occasions, "by night and day, in gladness and in woe" (st. 3). Life's pilgrimage has a specific goal, to be at rest in the new Jerusalem (st. 4) where all God's creatures will join in a great doxology (st. 5). The "rejoice" theme in the refrain is borrowed from Philippians 4:4.
As a processional or recessional hymn for festive occasions; the "pilgrimage" theme may be suitable for Old/New Year services and for funerals.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Edward H. Plumptre is the author of this pilgrimage hymn. It was written as a processional for the 1865 Peterborough Choir Festival at the Peterborough Cathedral in England. Plumptre published it in his Lazarus and Other Poems in 1865 or 1868. Its first inclusion in a hymnal was in the Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1868.
The text originally had eleven stanzas. Typically four or five stanzas are included in a modern hymnal, but there is little agreement between hymnals on which to include, and there is also a good deal of variation in the wording. All hymnals include the first stanza and omit the original third (“Yes, onward, onward still”), and most include the original seventh (“Yes, on through life’s long path”). The first line of the hymn is usually given as “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart,” but a few hymnals give it as “Rejoice, O Pilgrim Throng.” The themes of the text are rejoicing and pilgrimage. It was based on Philippians 4:4.
MARION is the most common tune used with this text. It was written for Plumptre’s text in 1883 by Arthur H. Messiter, who added the refrain. Messiter published the tune in a hymnal that he edited in 1893. The tune was named by the composer, but it is not clear for whom it was named. The word “Rejoice” is traded antiphonally between the men and women in the refrain.
An alternative modern tune, included in a few hymnals alongside MARION, is VINEYARD HAVEN, composed by Richard Dirksen as a processional for the installation of John M. Allin as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church at Washington National Cathedral in 1974. This tune has a modern approach to tonality, and congregations may find it difficult to sing. It is named after a town on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to which a close friend of the composer retired.
The hymn was written as a processional hymn, and may be sung at any time of year. A festival setting of “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart” with accompaniment for organ and optional instruments could be used for a grand processional; congregational participation is optional. For an instrumental prelude that fits the joyful mood of the hymn, try a setting such as the duet on MARION in “Hymn Settings for Organ and Piano.” To brighten the accompaniment for congregational singing, add a brass quartet to accent the standard hymnal setting of “MARION.”
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org